We think Kenny Pavey is the best English player currently playing outside of these shores. Whenever we are in Sweden we try and make time for him, simply because he is a really nice bloke. After my trip over to the Stockholm derby I asked Andy Hudson, our expert on Swedish football, and author of the excellent website Blågul Football to meet up with Kenny when he was next over in Stockholm. Over to you Andy.
I’ve been involved in many great situations since I started writing about football, but one stands out. It’s June 26 2011 and I’m sitting in O’Leary’s, a bar in Örebro. I’ve just ordered another beer, my fifth of the day, and AIK have won 2-1 away to Trelleborg. The only people celebrating as Teteh Bangura struck the winner in the 77th minute were me and a friend, in stark contrast to our protests when AIK wrongly had a goal disallowed in the first half; the other lads with us are still fuming about the ÖSK loss earlier. I fire off a text message and then there’s a look of disbelief from around the table as I read out the reply. My AIK supporting friend, the person to blame for the amount of time I spend talking about AIK; the person to blame for me checking the internet for the latest news; the person to blame for me listening to Swedish radio coverage of games whenever I can, can’t believe it. Kenny Pavey, ‘scorer’ of the disallowed goal, has replied. The same Kenny Pavey who can also happily be blamed for my AIK lust.
An infectious smile comes across the face of every AIK fan when I mention one name: Kenny Pavey – crowd favourite, idol of the North Stand, legend. If you wanted a definition of a whole-hearted, passionate player then I would give you Kenny Pavey. But he isn’t an English clogger, this guy has skill to go with the tough tackling.
AIK fans couldn’t believe it when he was left out of the starting eleven at the start of the season. Once he was back in the team he scored a last minute winner against ÖSK in the first full 90 minutes that he played, an example of his never-say-die attitude. With Pavey back in the team, AIK have started climbing the table. The Banguras may get the goals, but when the chips are down you would always want Pavey on your side.
Of course, Kenny has appeared on TBIR before. And it’s a great pleasure to have him here again:
Hi Kenny, thanks for taking the time to speak to The Ball Is Round again. How’s Stockholm life treating you?
Always nice to speak to The Ball Is Round; life is good in Stockholm. The football and my family are keeping me busy haha.
Has it been frustrating for you starting from the bench at times this season?
Yes of course. Any player that is happy to be on the bench has no ambition or belief in my eyes; I was injured just before the start of the season which meant not starting the first 3 games. I had a good run in the side then what can only be described as politics got involved and I was on the bench for another 3 games. But since then I have played from the start in every match and we have actually won every game: 6 wins in a row.
What else do you think went wrong last season when the club spent so much of the year around the relegation zone?
The key thing was that we lost so many players throughout the team. Key players, regular starters, it doesn’t matter which team you are, it takes time for players to gel together. I never thought that it was going to be as bad as it was but it really was something that I’ve never experienced in my playing career before. For me this was one of the most important seasons in my life as I was going to play Champions League football. The team was totally different from the year before and we never got a chance to show people outside of Sweden how good we really were, and that was very disappointing for me.
AIK fans love you, with many holding you up as an example of a player who displays the AIK spirit. How does that make you feel, knowing that you’ve become such a big part of a special club?
What can I say to that? When I signed for AIK, some friends from my team in Ljungskile told me that the fans would love me. Of course I had my doubts of how well it would go, but I never in my wildest dreams thought that it would be so special. They have been amazing to me and I will never forget the support they have given me during my time here.
Are you missing the games against Hammarby since their relegation?
Yes, absolutely!! I think it’s a shame for Swedish football that teams like Hammarby are not in the top league; the atmosphere is fantastic. As much as the AIK fans loved to see them go down, I think they really miss the derby matches.
Apart from AIK, who do you reckon will win the Allsvenskan this year?
I think Elfsborg and Helsingborg are our biggest threats
Do you have a plan to move back to England at some point or do you see your life as being in Sweden for the long term?
We are very happy in Sweden right now, especially in Stockholm, and being that I have a good profile in Sweden and I would like to work in football in the future, I don’t really think about it [moving back to England] too much. Plus it’s a great place to bring up kids which is a huge priority to me, so I guess at this moment no.
Could you imagine ever signing for Djurgården with the huge rivalry in Stockholm?
No, I could never do that to the AIK fans.
Do you ever get together for a beer with Calum Angus and James Keene – the other top-flight English lads?
No, I don’t actually. Borås is quite a long way away from Stockholm but I always have a good chat with James when I’m down there and I recently had a chat with Calum for the first time. Both are top men.
What kind of reaction do you get from Djurgården and Hammarby fans when you’re out in town?
To be honest, I have a lot of fans from the other clubs come up to me and tell me how much they hate AIK and me, but they tell me they love my style and would like me if I played in their team. I have never had any bad incidents with any of the fans.
How do you celebrate Midsommar?
Yes we have the traditional Swedish midsummer with dancing around the penis* and having a beer with some lovely food haha.
Kenny, it has been an absolute pleasure, cheers!
THANKS THE BALL IS ROUND, ALWAYS A PLEASURE!
The full version of Andy’s interview can be found on his excellent website Blågul Fotbul.
* Many readers will have read about the penis and will maybe think “those Swedes are always at it!”. And then maybe they’ll be confused for a moment. To help you: at Midsommar (a Swedish holiday) the Swedes will get together for a party which includes a load of booze and food. In the afternoon they will dance around a pole, a bit like the English maypole, where it’s a symbol of fertility with the pole having phallic symbolism.